The March Toward War: The <em>March of Time</em> as Document and Propaganda
Introduction The Time Empire MOT as Document Marching into War Voice of Conscience Timeline/Index
March of Time as Document
Defining the Radio Show
Form and Function: Radio
Defining the Films
Form and Function: Films
Public Opinion
Censoring Time
Quiz: Spot the Fake!
 Inside Nazi Germany ad

Propaganda or News? Censoring Time

If censorship and criticism of content is any measure of public opinion, The March of Time may have been considered very influential—and feared by those whom it chose to attack or portray as merely lunkheaded. Some censorship was personal, as in the case of William Randolph Hearst, who held a grudge against the Time empire, while some theater owners edited the films themselves to avoid backlash from the public, or in the case of one New Orleans theater, Huey Long. The reasons for censoring varied too: some issues might be judged propaganda against Germany; others might be judged pro-Nazi.

While it's clear that March of Time was widely seen, it is difficult to judge how much influence any one issue might have had on viewers or listeners. Strong reactions to the films often made headlines, however, as the following articles show.

"Huey a Film Censor Now? Kidding Subject Deleted from 'Time' in N.O." 4/24/35. Footage of Huey Long in a March of Time episode mysteriously goes missing in a New Orleans theater.

"Palestine" Protested, Censored, 10/30/35
The Ohio Board of Censors cut parts of "Palestine" because of local Jewish and German-American protests.

"Hearst No Like 'Time' Mention," 2/5/36
Hearst won't allow his newspapers to carry The March of Time radio listing.

Hearst Accuses March of Time of Propaganda, 3/4/36
Hearst accuses March of Time of delivering Russian propaganda with its latest release.

"Hollywood's Censor Is All the World," 3/29/36
This article discusses specific scenes that are cut from a few March of Time episodes; the reference appears on the second page, bottom of the middle column.

"Dominican Envoy Denounces Movie of 'Dictatorship,'" 7/14/36
A damning portrayal of the Dominican Republic's dictator leads to censorship in New York. The March of Time editors defend their work.

"Wheeler Film Attack on Court Change Is Censored in Kansas," 4/17/37
A statement by Sen. Wheeler of Montana (in some reports identified as Idaho) that is critical of Roosevelt's court-packing scheme is deleted by the Kansas State Board of Review.

"Chicago Bans Film Exposing Situation Under Nazis' Rule," 1/19/38
The Chicago Board of Censors bans "Inside Nazi Germany" because the film is unfriendly to the German government. The ban is later rescinded, according to an article in The New York Times, "Showing of Film on Nazis Guarded."

"'The March of Time' Fades Out of Amusement Scene, Bowing to Country's International Relationships!" 1/20/38
A local screening of "Inside Nazi Germany" is canceled in deference to Nazi officials in the United States.

"'March of Time' Takes 'Rap' for No Apparent Reason," 1/21/38
Rumors of censorship of "Inside Nazi Germany" at a Washington, D.C., theater.

"The Post's New Yorker," 1/25/38
A New York theater refuses to show "Inside Nazi Germany" because it is pro-Nazi.

"Sydney Refuses Ban on Film," 4/14/38
Australia refuses Nazi requests to ban "Inside Nazi Germany."

"Ministers Finding Support in France" 9/21/38
France's ban on "Prelude to Conquest" is mentioned in the last paragraph.

France Bans "Prelude to Conquest," 9/21/38
France withdrew from theaters all copies of the film that features Czechoslovakia's impending doom.

"Kennedy Helped Censor Newsreel, Commons Learns," 11/24/38
Ambassador to Great Britain Joseph Kennedy helps censor a March of Time film critical of Prime Minister Chamberlain, "The British Dilemma." Four issues have been barred in England thus far.

"Paris Bans Refugee Film," 1/26/39
Richard de Rochemont says he believes the French government will not show "The Refugee—Today and Tomorrow" because it "does not want to increase popular sympathy with refugees from Barcelona."

"Movie Censorship Scored as Menace," 2/5/39
Producer Louis de Rochemont participates in a panel on movie censorship.

"Tempestuous Career of 'Nazi Spy,'" 1/2/1940
This article, about a movie getting attention and censorship, makes reference to all concentration camp scenes being cut from "The Refugee—Today and Tomorrow" in Argentinian versions of the film.

"Ontario Bars Film 'Canada at War,'" 3/5/40

"Nazis' Propaganda Fails to Win Peru," 8/4/1940
Mentions Nazi influence on banning "Refugee—Today and Tomorrow" in Peru.

"Nazi Protests Fail to Block Film Showing," 8/30/1940
Nazis protest the use of "Baptism of Fire" in The Ramparts We Watch.

"Censors Stand Pat on 'Ramparts' Film/Fear of its 'Terrifying Effect on the Masses' Caused Cut in Movie in Pennsylvania/Court Fight is Next Step/Producer Asserts Board Does Not Know Americans as He, an Ex-Navy Man, Does," 9/20/40

"Looking Back At It All/The Films Encountered Many of the Same Old Problems Again in 1940," 12/29/40
In its review of the year's big film stories, the article refers to the "banning which received the most fanfare—'The Ramparts We Watch.'"

"News of the Screen," 1/20/41
Refers to Sen. Wheeler's attempts to have footage of himself removed from a film in which he criticizes Roosevelt's court-packing scheme.

"Willkie Engaged to Defend Films," 9/2/41
Former presidential candidate Wendell Willkie is hired by movie producers to defend them from congressional charges that they produce war propaganda. At the close of the article, Sen. Clark of Idaho says they will next look into "the workings of the March of Time."